Category Archives: Fundraising

 

Let’s be honest with ourselves. It is not easy to work in fundraising. Whether you are writing grants, cultivating relationships with major donors, managing special events or drafting marketing materials, you know that in the end, there is a bottom line. Your work has an impact on your organization(s) and that can be incredibly stressful. One slight error in a grant application and your 80+ hours of work on an application can be for naught. This is why many creative, thoughtful and intelligent individuals leave development positions after less than two years and why many new professionals move on to less stressful jobs.

I want to implore you thought that it is a fallacy though to believe that it falls all on our shoulders. Here is why that is….

  1. What is your culture of philanthropy? Fundraising involves much more than writing an application or report. It involves the investment of time and resources from your board leadership, leadership team, programmatic, financial and administrative staff to remain committed to meeting your goals. Each of these individuals play a significant part in the success of your fundraising efforts.
  2. How are you using your time? Are you investing your time in high priority fundraising efforts or providing band aid administrative support as well? Make sure you are focused on the tasks that will lead to the greatest results and create a cost-benefit analysis should you need to speak with your superior(s) on shifting workloads.
  3. You are not perfect. Yes, that’s right, you are not a superhero! While you can generate revenue for your organization(s), you can be prone to mistakes. It happens. Try not to beat yourself up and use it as an opportunity to develop a better process to avoid such errors moving forward.
  4. How are you improving? Are you investing your time in attending professional development workshops or conference that can improve your work? There are wonderful local, regional and national conferences that are geared towards public and nonprofit sector growth and sustainability. The GPA National Conference in Chicago is coming up and always a wonderful event. You can always learn a new skill, regardless of whether you are able to travel.

Fundraising can be a rewarding and satisfying profession. We just need to keep things in perspective and try to stay focused to the extent possible.

Let’s be brutally honest – fundraising is a pressure cooker. Get the funding or your organization cannot continue maintaining services (forgetting expansion). You might lose staff. You have board members who are breathing down your neck to ensure that you are meeting organizational priorities. It is no wonder that development professionals fizzle out and there is lots of transience in this profession. What can we do to stay on top of our work while also maintaining our sanity?

  1. Outline your plan – What do you need to do today? This week? This month? Start from the most important priorities and focus on these items. It is easy to get sidetracked, but you have to keep reiterating the message to others that if you can’t focus on these priorities, the organization will lose out.
  2. What are your tools? Are there technology resources, human capital, space, policies, or leadership buy-in that you can use to be successful?
  3. Share the load – The biggest misconception about fundraising is that it all falls on the shoulders of those in the Development Department, but we all know this is not the case. What can programmatic, financial, and administrative staff and volunteers do to help support you? Spell this out and delineate responsibilities to make it easier for others to understand.
  4. Separate – You have to find a way to ensure self-care or else you will be tired, stressed out, isolated and become disgruntled. Block off time in your calendar, download a meditation app or take a vacation day. Working 12 hours every day does not show your commitment to the organization but rather shows that your position is not structured effectively.

How will you try to reduce the pressure?